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Welcome to ninja week

Weyauwega and Fremont Elementary School students are participating in a an obstacle course inspired by American Ninja Warrior. The course tests a wide range of physical skills. James Card Photo

Best gym class of the year

By James Card

There are no nun-chucks or throwing stars but it’s ninja week at Weyauwega Elementary and Fremont Elementary Schools.

The gymnasiums are transformed into an obstacle course to test all of their physical abilities.

The challenge course is the brainchild Pat Fee, the 27-year veteran physical education teacher at both schools. He doesn’t take all of the credit as he said his predecessor came up with a similar obstacle course. Fee just gave it more of a modern upgrade inspired by the American Ninja Warrior game show where adult athletes run an extremely elaborate obstacle course.

“That was one of the ideas I really wanted to keep. I just upgraded it a bit because the American Ninja Warrior course was big. They are familiar with that so they get excited it about it. It all came from a veteran teacher that was here for many years,” said Fee.

He pointed out the equipment and said it will be packed up and moved to Fremont Elementary School. This bummed his second grade class when they heard the news. They wanted some more ninja action but Fee said the Fremont students wanted a chance at the course, too.

The course starts off testing aiming skills by shooting hoops with a basket ball. Next, they scramble over two triangle-shaped towers covered with cargo netting and then climb over a padded vault.

From there, they must bear crawl through a tunnel and out the other end is a scooter where they must pull themselves along hand over hand on a rope.
That leads to a rock-climbing wall covered with bolted-in holds and the students must not only scale the wall but pass through two hoops while moving sideways across the wall.
From there is the rope climb. If a student has enough upper body strength, he or she can climb it to the top and join an elite group of student-warriors that can sign their name on the ceiling plate. If unable to climb the rope, they can Tarzan swing.

“Our older kids will go up and have a Sharpie and will sign the top and put their name up there. That’s a big deal for them,” said Fee.

Next is the fitness spot where they perform push-ups, sit-ups, squats, windmills and jumping jacks. After that is a rope-skipping station to develop rhythm and coordination.

Next to that are two balance beams to test agility: one is padded and solid, the other is a thick strap, much like a ratchet strap that is stretched tight between two anchor points. The strap is tight as a guitar string but still very unsteady.

The last two stations are a beanbag toss to test accuracy and standing on a tippy balance board that has a teeter-totter effect. With the younger students, Fee rotates the class every couple minutes from station to station. With the older students, he has timed races to see who can complete the course in record time.

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